Jennie's Reviews > The Language of Flowers

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
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's review
Sep 08, 2011

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Read from August 29 to September 06, 2011

Victoria starts her adult life an 18-year-old girl emancipate from the San Francisco foster care system. After a childhood of neglect, she miraculously blossoms into a businesswoman and mother, redeemed by an adoptive parent who teaches her to connect using the Victorian language of flowers. The author has woven a cause for social justice into a work of compelling fiction, and uses this tightly-crafted novel to inspire people to act with foster kids in mind. In this country there are nearly 20,000 young people emancipate each year from the foster care system, many of them with no skills and no means of support. In response to this state of affairs, Diffenbaugh, a foster parent herself, founded the Camellia Network for supporting youth who are making the transition from foster care. Any flaw in this story is its fairytale-esque reversal of fortune. Are we really hooked by the Cinderella story? It's too easy to forget that if the feral fire starter Victoria Jones was a true flesh-and-blood girl, her considerable wounds would take longer to heal than this book concedes. Nonetheless, The Language of Flowers offers a singular vision, particularly its fascinating purview of a lost art. Scan "Victoria's Dictionary of Flowers" in the back pages. I never would have guessed that Black Eyed Susans symbolize Justice, Dahlias Dignity, Thistle Misanthropy; Least of all, the meaning of Camellia: My Destiny is in Your Hands. I just picked up two bunches of Cosmos (Joy in Love and Life), and think of this story each time I pass them.
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